MUSCLE SHOALS — Debo Reeder was confident he was the right guy at the free-throw line for Muscle Shoals with the Colbert County tournament championship on the line.
His confidence showed. Reeder swished the first of two free throws with 6.5 seconds remaining Saturday night, providing the Trojans with the winning point in a 45-44 victory over Sheffield at the Northwest-Shoals Community College gym.
Reeder’s second free throw spun out, giving Sheffield an opportunity to win at the buzzer. But Hunter Danley’s 3-pointer from the left wing missed, allowing Muscle Shoals to escape with it’s eighth straight county championship.
“There ain’t nothing to it. You just have to keep your calm, do your routine and make sure you follow through on your shot,” said Reeder, a 5-foot-7 senior guard who finished with a team-high 10 points.
When asked if he had ever made the game-winning free throw before, he didn’t hesitate.
“Sure, there’s been plenty more,” he said.
“I’m always up for taking the big shot in the game.”
Muscle Shoals coach Jody Lanier breathed a sigh of relief when Danley missed the last shot. The Trojans have struggled since getting a late start due to a lengthy football season. He said he has seen improvement in team chemistry recently in practice.
“They want to see each other be successful,” he said. “Once you get to that point, all you have top do is try to keep getting better and hopefully keep that chemistry going.
“There’s a lot of pride in the basketball program at Muscle Shoals, and every class that comes along knows it is their responsibility. That’s our kids’ mentality.”
Sheffield led only once, at 12-11 in the first quarter, and trailed 32-19 when the Trojans (5-9) scored the first four points of the second half. It was a nine-point deficit to start the fourth quarter but the Bulldogs kept pecking away. Simon Ridgeway scored nine of his game-high 17 points in the final eight minutes to help rally the Bulldogs. Jametrius Smith finally got the Bulldogs even at 44 with a shot in the post with 28 seconds to play.
Holding the ball for the last shot to either win or get to overtime, Reeder was fouled about 22 feet from the basket to get to the line. He made the first.
Danley said he got a good look at the 3-pointer.
“I rushed it a little bit,” he said.
Sheffield coach Ski Anderson was happy with the way his team rallied in the fourth quarter.
“We fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win,” he said. “We just came up a little short. We tried not to panic and chip away and tried to keep a little defensive intensity and do a better job rebounding.”
Both coaches lamented missed free throws. Muscle Shoals was 5 of 12 in the fourth quarter while Sheffield was 5 of 11.
Shaq Carroll was the only other player in double figures with 11 points for Sheffield.
Contact Gregg Dewalt at 256-740-5748 or email@example.com. Follow @greggdewalt on Twitter.